HETI Golden Scalpel Games

On the 17th of August, the University of Sydney team competed in the HETI-organised Golden Scalpel Games held at the Kolling Building, Royal North Shore Hospital. The inter-university event saw some intense competition, with the final result going down right down to the wire. The team trained weekly for almost 6 months, and as a result of their hard work, they proudly earned 2nd place.Team: Vijidha Shree, Dani Brewster, Michael Wu, Raymond Hayler, Kirsten Carlaw, Josh Yuwa, Aaron Adonopulos, Nick Skladnev, Jess Barklimore

Surgical Grand Rounds, Monday 8th July.

Our invited speaker, Dr Saxon Connor, is an hepatobiliary surgeon from Christchurch, New Zealand.  He is the clinical e-health lead for the Canterbury district health board where he is playing a key role in helping to establish a digital health system. He has also been involved with tech companies bringing electronic workflow solutions for clinicians from concept to production. The title of his talk is “Why surgeons need to be leading the digital transformation to a data driven health system”.  Grand rounds are held in the Norman Nock Lecture Room on level 5  of the Kolling Building and will commence at 5:00 pm. 

SERT Attends RACP – RoboDoctors: The Rise of Artificial Intelligence …


This presentation explored the current advancements of technology and what this means in relation to medicine and the future of our physicians.

Acute Surgical Unit receives NSLHD Quality Improvement Award.


The Acute Surgical Unit (ASU) at Royal North Shore Hospital (RNSH) was the “Local Solutions”  winner in the 2019 Northern Sydney Local Health District Quality and Improvement Awards for the project titled —  ‘Better managing gastrointestinal surgery”. Congratulations to Olivia Kirkland and team.

Prior to the establishment of the ASU, the large number of emergency gastrointestinal procedures performed at RNSH meant that elective surgery patients had to be rescheduled or procedures performed out of hours.  The Acute Surgical Unit was established to address these challenges through a range of measures which included a dedicated theatre and a data-driven quality improvement process. In addition, an online web application was developed to provide clinicians with ready access to relevant protocols and procedures. This data-driven approach has helped improve the care of acute surgical patients at RNSH. In particular, it has resulted in a 40 per cent reduction in elective surgery cancellations and a 45% reduction in unnecessary after-hours surgeries.

International Clinical Trials Day @RNSH2019

The SERT Institute was a sponsor of the RNSH 2019 Clinical trials day. The Department of Surgery was well represented. Special thanks go to Linda Pallot (RNSH Vascular, Surgery) and Rebeka Tenant (Manager, Research Strategy and Partnerships, NSLHD). 

The history of surgical teaching at the University of Sydney

Anderson Stewart Building c1900 courtesy of University of Sydney Archive

The first medical students entered the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Sydney in 1883.  At this time, Thomas Peter Anderson Stuart (1856–1920), a 26-year-old recent graduate of the University of Edinburgh, was appointed Professor of Anatomy and Physiology and charged with organising the surgical teaching program.  As it is today, surgery was a rapidly changing speciality. In particular new techniques such as anaesthesia and antisepsis were in the process of transforming clinical practice. Professor Stewart recalled of his time in Edinburgh:

“I recognised the value of Lister’s teaching, and did as much as I could with him… I had an opportunity of working under the old surgery, and yet observing the new… I remember Mr Spence in an old grey operation coat, which he had used for years, and which was stiff with coagulated blood, and other discharges, so that if you placed it on the floor it stood erect by itself…” (Epps, 1922; Brown, 2016)

Brown and Storey (2016) give a fascinating account of the changes in surgical teaching that have taken place at the university since the introduction of anaesthesia and antisepsis.

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International Clinical Trials Day

James Lind

International Clinical Trials Day (2019) will be celebrated in the front foyer of the Acute Services Building between 10 am and 2 pm. It will highlight the excellent clinical research conducted on the Royal North Shore Hospital Campus.

International clinical trials day is held each year on the 20th of May to celebrate the day in 1753 that James Lind commenced the first documented clinical trial. This study convincingly demonstrated that scurvy could be treated with citrus fruit [Lind, 1753]. Scurvy is a horrible disease, the mortality associated with this condition on long sea voyages during the “Age of Sail” was approximately 50% [Price 2017]. Lind’s study conclusively demonstrated the striking contrast between the severity of the disease and the simplicity of its cure. Without recognition of the importance of the scientific methodology behind the clinical trial, it took an additional forty years of experiments, analysis, and political lobbying for his result to become institutionalized in the Royal Navy [Cegłowski, 2010]. It was not until 1795 that the Royal Navy routinely administered citrus fruit to sailors  [Hemila, 2006]. Sadly, since antiquity, it has been documented that fresh fruit will prevent scurvy. In the absence of the evidence provided by the “scientific methodology”, these observations were forgotten or ignored by subsequent generations [Cegłowski, 2010]. Continue reading

Reshaping the critical role of surgeons in oncology research

In a recent paper published in Nature Reviews Clinical Oncology, an international team of prominent surgeons examined the barriers to conducting research faced by contemporary trainees and practising surgeons.

“Over the past decade … concerns have been raised about a global decline in the number of surgeons performing basic science research alongside clinical activity – so-called surgeon-scientists.  …  we offer some thoughts on potential strategies and future directions for surgical engagement in oncology research to increase the number of research-active surgeons.” (1)

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RNSH SERT Institute Newsletter

Professor Tom Hugh

I welcome you to the 5th Newsletter of the Royal North Shore Hospital SERT Institute.

We have made significant progress in our endeavours to promote academic surgery on the campus. I encourage you to become a part of our vision and am interested to hear your thoughts on how we can continue to improve this service.


Kind Regards

Tom Hugh

Chair of Surgery, Sydney Medical School – Northern, The University of Sydney
Director of the RNSH SERT Institute.
Royal North Shore Hospital, St Leonards NSW, 2065
+61 2 9463 2899 (tel) | +61 2 9438 2278 (fax)

Professor Jason Sicklick will be speaking at Surgical Grand Rounds

Dr Jason Sicklick, general surgeon and surgical oncologist from University of California San Diego will be visiting  Royal North Shore Hospital on the 18th of February and speaking at Surgical Grand Rounds (5-6pm in the Kolling Auditorium).  Jason specialises in the treatment of gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST),  primary liver cancer (hepatocellular carcinoma, HCC)  and in the role of genomic medicine in the provision of personalised care for cancer patients. The topic of his talk is `It’s More than Personal: Putting the “I” in Precision Oncology’.